If there’s one thing that takes the pain out of the post-festive blues, it’s the annual awards season.
This week, Bafta has unveiled its nominations, including its shortlist for Best Film Not in the English Language. We give you a lowdown on the contenders.
This movie has all the credentials to win: it’s become the most-watched film ever to hit the French silver screen and this month set a record after holding on to the number one spot for ten consecutive weeks in France.
Last year, The Artist took home the Academy Award for Best Picture, with its star Jean Dujardin and director Michel Hazavanicius winning Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Director respectively. Indeed, French cinema has been blessed during awards season in recent years, and the country has chosen Untouchable as its 2013 entry for Best Foreign Language Oscar.
Called Les Intouchables in France, it was released in the US as The Intouchables and in the UK as Untouchable. Its success under all of these monikers has been so great a Hollywood remake is already (and inevitably) in the pipeline.
Telling the story of a wealthy quadriplegic aristocrat and his Arabic carer – who’s also an ex-con – the movie tracks their unlikely friendship. In fact, the plot may lead you to think this is a hard-hitting social drama, when in fact it’s a comedy – albeit an unconventional one. This could be a real contender.
Rust and Bone
France’s other hopeful, Rust and Bone is a moving drama that stars Marion Cotillard, who is herself an Oscar winner. Cotillard plays a killer whale trainer who meets unemployed kick boxer Sam, played by Armand Verdure, while at a nightclub. Shortly after meeting, Cotillard’s character Stéphanie is injured in a tragic accident.
Together, these two injured parties learn to open up to another person and begin putting themselves together again. Bafta likes a tearjerker, with Atonement winning Best Film in 2007. Will this be enough to beat Untouchable?
You might have to pack a lot of sweaters if you’re planning to go on holiday to Scandinavia, but when it comes to cinema and TV this region is red-hot. From Stieg Larsson and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, to the phenomenal international success of The Killing, Scandinavia has scorched a name for itself as a leader in stylish thrillers.
The movie follows Roger Brown, who is both a successful headhunter and an art thief. When he decides to steal a Rubens painting from an acquaintance, he quickly realises he has bitten off more than he can chew.
Headhunters is the latest entry in this chronicle of Scandi-Noir, and although a US remake is on the cards, critics are urging cinema fans to catch the original. This is a pacey thriller based on Jo Nesbø’s novel Hodejegerne. Crime movies might not be the most traditional winners come awards season, but The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo set a standard after picking up the Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Not in the English Language Baftas, along with Best Actress for its star Noomi Rapace – so don’t discount it just yet!
Michael Haneke’s latest offering is a tale of love and loss. Centring on elderly couple Anne and Georges, it follows their relationship as they try to adapt following Anne’s stroke.
At the time of writing, the film has a 92 per cent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has been commended by critics for everything from the tender but pared down script to the believable performances of the two central actors, Jean-Louis Xavier Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva.
It’s hardly a surprise though, as Haneke is something of a critics’ favourite. He has a particular specialism in capturing and commenting on modern society, but unlike much of the rest of his back catalogue, Amour is surprisingly touching.
This Danish gem is the very definition of gritty. It is directed by Thomas Vinterberg, one of the founders of the Dogme 95 filmmaking movement alongside Lars von Trier.
Starring Mads Mikkelsen in the central role, The Hunt focuses on a lonely Danish nursery school teacher from a small town who is wrongly accused of child abuse. The story may be well-trodden, but there is no underestimating the power of this tale of an innocent man whose simple life and blossoming romantic relationship is shattered by a small lie.
The Bafta Awards will take place on February 10th at London’s Royal Opera House, and we will be glued to our screens as we wait and see which of the above has nabbed the Best Film Not in the English Language award.